Lou Piniella apologized this morning for ``overreacting’’ to Jason Marquis’ assertion that he’d rather be traded than pitch out of the bullpen. Marquis said he doesn’t regret what he said Saturday -- ``I don’t think I said anything negative.’’
And ultimately nothing changed overnight about Marquis’ status or the likelihood he’ll be traded regardless by the end of camp if the Cubs can get a team to bite off at least most of what's left of the $16.25 million he’s owed on the final two years of his contract.
The two met this morning in Piniella’s office, and both said things were smoothed over. But Marquis still considers himself a starter and wouldn’t address the alternative.
``I’m committed to the Chicago Cubs first and foremost,’’ Marquis said this morning. ``I want to pitch here and that’s the reason I signed here. So I’m going to gout there and try to get better day by day and work on the things I need to work on. And [if he doesn’t win a rotation job] we’ll cross that path when we get to it.’’
Marquis said Saturday he would rather ``take my services elsewhere’’ to start if the Cubs didn’t want him as a starter this year.
``Look, I can understand why a player feels that way,’’ Piniella said this morning. ``The whole thing here basically is I wasn’t expecting it. It sort of surprised me. But I should have handled it better, and I apologize.’’
That doesn’t mean Marquis has been assured anything beyond a chance to win one of two rotation openings, with Jon Lieber, Ryan Dempster and Sean Marshall also in the mix.
``Look, we’re going to continue to go with the way we’ve been doing it,’’ Piniella said. ``Everybody’s going to get an opportunity here to start and we’ll see what happens toward the end of spring training. Look, competition is a part of this thing. We’ve got seven very capable people here to start. Is that my fault? No. That’s what we have, and I’ve got to give everybody a chance.’’
Piniella said his angry response Saturday to Marquis’ comments -- ``if that’s the case, he can go somewhere else’’ and ``you know, that galls me about Marquis’’ – were influenced by his mood after the team ‘s poor play in a loss to the Angels.
``I overreacted to it, that’s all there is to it,’’ he said. ``I’m human, and when I’m wrong I admit I’m wrong. And I should have handled the situation differently. I recognized it after I said it, but what can you do. On the way home I said, `Well, I stuck my foot in my mouth.’ But I already had stuck it, so what do you do?
``And, again, we’re going to give him every opportunity to compete and win himself a job, because. .. Basically, I like Jason, I really do. It has nothing to do with [anything] personal or otherwise, but we’ve got to be fair, too, and we’ve got to let people compete and let the process take hold.’’